Despite evidenced, recorded, and undeniable instances of excessive force used by police officers in black and brown communities, the unfortunate truth is that very little has been done to stop it. The lack of repercussions given the disproportionate violent shootings and killings of people of color at the hands of law enforcement has sparked outrage, sprung movements, and is central to the current, controversial NFL protest began by Colin Kaepernick.
In response to the increased national attention on policing in America, as well as widespread calls for reform that have largely been ignored, the Vera Institute of Justice has launched a new Policing Program committed to ending this overreliance on enforcement as the primary means of ensuring community safety. In an effort to proactively prevent police encounters that end in tragedy and violence, the Vera Institute is also launching the Police Enhancing Accountability through Community Engagement (PEACE) Initiative, which seeks to unite police and communities in order to drive collaborative police reform a the local level.
Successfully piloted in Asheville, North Carolina, here's how the program works:
1. A Seat at the Table - After an officer-involved shooting, The PEACE Initiative will facilitate forums between local police and the community.
2. Closed Door Forums - These closed meetings will include 20-25 police and community members invited to engage in this process.
3. Productive Discourse - Structured conversations will be hosted by trained facilitators and will include 20-25 police and community members invited to engage in this process.
4. Reshaping Policies - These forums will tackle critical topics such as the use of force and policing in schools with the end goal of helping to reshape policies in a way that is genuinely and fundamentally community-informed.
With proven past successes with local initiatives reducing solitary confinement and promoting fair public housing, Vera brings experience and expertise in this arena. The organization is accepting RFP's from local police departments that are interested in engaging in a participatory police-community policy development process.